Sociology Index

Sociology of Family

Sociology of family is concerned with Family, Marriage, Children, Sociology of children and Parenting, and other forms of close relationships. Sociology of family studies the social, cultural, political and economic impacts of changing families. Contemporary society is changing rapidly and we are seeing some relatively new forms emerge. The "ideal image" of two biological parents and children living in harmony, is not realistic anymore. The family has many forms, therefore sociology of family must include the two-parent family, single-parent family, blended family, same-sex family and adoptive family. As an insitution family socializes individuals to be productive members of society.

Family has within its boundaries a set of norms, values, social status, and roles which are organized or designed to guide or meet specific goals for the overall society.

As a social group, the focus is on each  individual members of the family in question. What each person brings to the family and how each person contributes to the relationships with other individuals in the family determines the reality within each family. Everyone looks to his family for guidance, support, and a sense of belonging. Family is the most important social institution as it is our first encounter with socialization processes. As a social system, the family is viewed as an entity which consists of various interrelated parts or statuses that perform particular functions or roles. Further, the family as a system is part of a larger system or society and contributes to its functioning.

Whether we examine the family as an institution, system, or group, studies in sociology of family begins with a fascination of the family entity and the relationships within its boundaries. One of the big issues or challenges within sociology of family studies lies in its definition.

There are growing numbers of so-called "variant family forms" in society. The family has many forms, like the two-parent family, single-parent family, blended family, same-sex family and adoptive family.

Marriage & Family Processes - Part of Trinity University's A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace, this resource is organized into: the Spectrum of Families Relations across Cultures and Time; Cultural Factors Shaping Family Striker & Processes; Stages of Coupling; Relations between Husbands & Wives Through Time; Parenting; Singlehood and Alternative Family Forms; Other Family Players, Beyond the Nuclear Cast; Marital Disunions; Institutions Affecting and Affected by Family Systems; and general resources.

A family system first emerging in the 16th and 17th centuries in the towns of Europe among the growing middle class of merchants, professionals and administrators. It later spreads to the working class during the industrial revolution. This family type is centred on private homelife, the relationship of the couple and their children and based on a clear division of gender roles, with men as chief income earners and women centred in the domestic world of home and family. For many conservatives this remains the ideal form of family.

A nuclear family of adult partners and their children (by birth or adoption) where the family relationship is principally focused inwardly and ties to extended kin are voluntary and based on emotional bonds, rather than strict duties and obligations.

A family system of nuclear families linked through shared descent from a common ancestor. The individual nuclear families are bound into complex ties of obligation and daily activity with each other. Consanguineal families can be linked either matrilineally or patrilineally.

A family system based on the equality of the participants and in direct contrast to the patriarchal family. It usually refers to an equal relationship between the adult partners, though it can mean permissive, rather than authoritarian, parent-child relationship. In North American families this family form is most likely to be found among young and well-educated couples. The term ‘symmetrical family’ is sometimes used as an equivalent. The concept is in many respects an ideal, rather than descriptive of typical or usual family relationships.

This has the same composition as the conjugal family, but the term ‘nuclear’ does not imply that the family is inwardly focused and relatively autonomous from extended kin as in the case of the conjugal family. Extended, or consanguineal (based on shared blood descent), families can be thought of as composed of linked nuclear families.

Sociology of Family Abstracts

Trends in family sociology.
Huber J, Spitze G - Source citation: In: Handbook of sociology, [edited by] Neil J. Smelser. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1988. Abstract: Except for the industrial era, family sociology has lacked theories that explain world patterns over time. Recent work in historical demography, social history, comparative sociology, and anthropology now suggest how the variables involving food production permit or encourage monogamy, polygamy, and the conjugal or extended family. The stimuli of industrial technology, retirement plans, improved contraceptives, and wives' employment have caused incentives to marry for life and rear children to erode. The economic cement that once bound spouses for life has been replaced by love, a thin glue for a 50 year contract. Current research confirms that since 1960 age at first marriage, divorce, and untraditional household formation are up. Remarriage and fertility are down. These changes pose new questions. Will the division of household labor shift? Will the divorce rate fall, level off, or rise? Can western countries maintain fertility at levels adequate to support their retirement systems? The direct economic benefits of child rearing currently go to the elderly according to their wage-related contributions. The persons who rear the child receive no direct economic benefits. Is child rearing rewarding enough to offset such costs? Does an innate factor drive humans to reproduce regardless of disincentives?

The Religious Roots of Family Sociology
Adams, Michele - Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Abstract: Although scholars have situated the birth of family sociology well into the 20th century, I suggest that family sociology has roots in the 19th century religiously-motivated anti-divorce reform movement, as exemplified by the National League for the Protection of the Family and its primary spokesperson, Reverend Samuel Dike. Examining original documents authored by Dike in his capacity as the organization’s corresponding secretary, I suggest that Dike came to act as a bridge between the moral reformers and early family sociologists, aided by sociologist Albion Small’s long-term participation in the League as an Executive Committee member. Implicitly, Small provided Dike and the League with a legitimate sociological footing for their reform discourse at a time when sociology was undergoing initial professionalization in the United States. This footing allowed the reformers to set the tone and frame the “problem of the family” debate for the emerging sub-discipline of family sociology. In many ways, moral reform rhetoric has continued to frame the discourse for family sociologists up to the present.

Critical Feminist Pedagogy and Sociology of the Family Courses - Hirshfield, Laura. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Abstract: As a feminist scholar and educator, I am committed to using feminist pedagogical methods. However, the unique nature of the course I teach, Marriage and the Family, poses difficulties for instructors wishing to adhere to the tenets of critical feminist pedagogy. In this article, I identify and explore the sources of this mismatch, reviewing both the origins of critical feminist pedagogy and the peculiarities of Marriage and the Family courses. I conclude that the solution to this problem does not lie within the classroom, but within common definitions of “feminist pedagogy.”

Family Leisure and Changing Ideologies of Parenthood
By Susan M. Shaw, University of Waterloo (January 2008)
Abstract: Examines the significant role that family leisure plays in family life, and the ways in which family time, family activities, and family vacations reflect and contribute to changing ideologies of parenthood (including ideologies of motherhood and fatherhood). Research on this topic has shown family leisure to be a parental commitment, organized and constructed for the benefit of children and for the family as a whole. At the same time, family leisure has contradictory meanings and outcomes, because of the work involved and the difficulties associated with organizing and facilitating positive family experiences. Moreover, the work of family leisure falls disproportionately to mothers, reducing their personal time and personal leisure. It is argued that family leisure is a new obligation of parenthood, and one that has important implications for understanding ideas, beliefs and practices associated with intensive motherhood and involved fatherhood.

Matrimonial Property in Europe: A Link Between Sociology and Family Law
This article questions the justification of the system of community of property (limited and deferred) in the context of the current notion of marriage and de facto relations between spouses in Europe, with the primary goal of the community of property from the first half of the 20th century as its starting point, i.e., the correction of the de facto inequality of men and women in society.
The basic means for such correction was and still is recognizing the value of indirect contributions of spouses in the form of childrearing and housework. Accordingly, one may say that indirect contribution and its equalization with direct contribution are the common issue of a functional approach to various matrimonial property systems in Europe.

Soft ideas and hard methods: family sociologist or social psychologist? Stryker, Sheldon
Publisher: Haworth Press, Inc.
Article Abstract: The author examines his undergraduate and graduate education, which helped influence his interest in family sociology and ultimately led to his becoming a family sociologist/psychologist.

Children in Family Sociology Texts: United States and Sweden. The Wisconsin Sociologist. Volume 24, number 1 (winter 1987)
Abstract: Textbooks from the US & Sweden (N = 18) are examined to determine how family sociologists deal with children when writing for a College reading public. Textbook writers appear to be adult-oriented & -positive, presenting dating & spousal relations & interaction in a generally favorable light, & parent-child relations & interaction in an unfavorable one. Sibling relations & interaction are almost totally overlooked or ignored. There are no marked differences between US & Swedish textbooks in these regards. 4 Tables, 9 References. Modified HA

On the sociology of family - SIMMEL G. ; RITTER M. ; FRISBY D
Theory, culture & society ISSN 0263-2764
Abstract: In this article on the sociology of family, Simmel locates the study of the family within contemporary sociology. Utilizing current ethnographic material, Simmel seeks to counter simple evolutionary assumptions about the development of the family emerged, in favour of recognition of the variety of its early forms. Arguing that the family emerged from the relation between mother and child, Simmel examines the relationships between private property and monogamy as well as economic aspects of the family and the position of women.

Family Panels to Build a Sociological Perspective on Work-Family Connections
Authors: Michael Gortari, Erik Schwinger, Rebecca M. Thomas, and Clayton D. Peoples, University of Nevada, Reno
Abstract: The relationship between work and family is crucial, and conveying this is one of the key tasks of teaching sociological perspectives on the family. But conveying this reality can be difficult given that directly demonstrating family life situations in the classroom is very difficult. In this paper, we describe an exercise that brings work/family situations into the classroom indirectly via a “family panel” of guest speakers trained in sociology talking openly about their own families. We expound upon a recent family panel we conducted, and evaluate its effectiveness. We find the panel is a positive learning experience for students and makes themes/concepts related to the crucial work/family connection more real and understandable.

Books On Sociology of Family

Sociology of Families Book by David M. Newman, Elizabeth Grauerholz

Advancing Family Theories Book by James M. White

New Poverty : Families in Postmodern Society - Book by David Cheal

The Sociology of the Family: A Reader Book by Graham A. Allan, Graham Allan (Editors)

Sociology of Families : Readings Book by Cheryl Albers (Editor)

Early Sociology of the Family (Making of Sociology) Book by Bryan S. Turner (Editor)

Sociology of the Family: Investigating Family Issues Lee D. Millar Bidwell, Brenda J. Vander Mey

Kinship and social organisation (The early sociology of the family) Book by W. H. R Rivers